Created in 2014 by educators and transformational change agents Dr. LaMarr Darnell Shields and Dr. Marina V. Gillmore, SPARK is an innovative non-profit organization committed to developing and sustaining spaces of deep congruence where change agents can work individually and collectively to (re)align their passions with their professional visions and purpose. SPARK envisions a world where change agents, through deeply connecting with their purpose, can ignite real and lasting change within themselves and in the communities they serve.
We develop and lead three-day experiences and one-day professional development workshops focused on professional wellness, mindfulness, self-efficacy, and purpose-to-profession alignment among teachers, school administrators, non-profit leaders, and other change agents and youth service providers.
We believe deeply that the better we take care of ourselves, the more effectively we can affect change with the youth we serve daily. We believe that our efficacy, wellness, and passion directly impact young people’s educational and social-emotional success. We believe that who we are directly impacts what we do. And we believe that our young people and their futures are worth it.
“SPARK was at the very top of all the professional development experiences I’ve had. The intimate structure allowed each person to dig deep for their own growth and advancement in their next step in life. It was an experience that brought me back to myself It also helped me to release some negative energy and face my fears.”
“This may be hard to explain, but I was able to step out of my own self and really SEE me. The mindfulness activity where we got to track our thoughts helped me to observe what I was thinking and take control of my thoughts. The mirror activity helped me to see myself in a way I have never looked at myself before. It made me want to be kinder and more gentle with me. The overall retreat location and atmosphere helped me to step out of my daily roles and job title and clear my head and just be. It was fantastic!”
“This experience was not about teaching, but about reflecting. In that respect, it was incomparably better to any other professional development I’ve experience. I realized why I am in this profession, what I love about it, and what I am not willing to compromise. It has brought joy to me as I feel I see things with more clarity.”
“I realized at SPARK that it was okay to accept my failures because they were designed to happen in order for me to grow in all aspects of my life. The SPARK Experience gave me greater insight on the importance that physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional activities play in my life I am truly motivated to live into what I discovered about my purpose at the Spark Retreat.”
100 percent of all donations go to support our SPARK scholarship program, which makes it possible for deserving teachers, social workers, and other change agents to attend one of our SPARK experiences and, in turn, transform the lives of the youth they serve daily.
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We believe that connection, dialogue, and community are the keys to sustained growth and change – both internal and external. Sign up here to join our mailing list and we’ll keep you up-to-date on all SPARK-related happenings.